Courtesy of Razorbloggers.net
Saturday, June 13, 2009 | midnight
Chase Leavitt spent two years on a mission in Wisconsin for the Mormon church that might have cost him a chance at playing professional baseball.
This weekend, Leavitt embarks on another mission –- this time in Nebraska for the University of Arkansas, a national championship and a shot at resurrecting those Major League dreams.
Despite garnering Preseason All-SEC honors, earning the title of Razorbacks' captain and batting .302 with 30 RBI this year, Leavitt was not one of the 1,521 players selected in the 2009 MLB Entry Draft.
Don't forget the fact that as an All-Regional junior last season, Leavitt led Arkansas in batting average (.366), runs scored (60) and on-base percentage (.505).
The only number that seems to scare off Major League clubs is his age. Leavitt is a 24-year-old college senior because of the two years he spent fulfilling his commitment to the Mormon church.
"I'm disappointed with the draft, absolutely," Leavitt said. "I thought I would get picked. I think it's an age issue, which it shouldn't be. I think that's kind of a joke. Maybe it's not in the cards for me to play baseball in the future, but I'm not worried about that. I'm focused on enjoying my time in Omaha. I'm excited to be here and I'm going to do what I can to win a championship."
Leavitt, a former College of Southern Nevada standout, will lead Arkansas (39-22) into the opening round of the College World Series Saturday against Cal State Fullerton (47-14) at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.
The Razorbacks, who were just 14-15 in SEC action, upset No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 5 Florida State to reach the World Series.
"It's a big accomplishment just reaching this point. We came here to win it all," Leavitt said. "Cal State Fullerton is a great team. Everyone knows they have a great program. We have to play our best baseball to beat them."
And despite failing to draw the attention of professional scouts, Leavitt does know a few things about winning titles.
In 2002 Leavitt led Snow Canyon High School to a Utah state championship. Prior to leaving for his mission, he earned All-Region honors while helping Dixie State win the 2004 Junior College National Championship. Last summer he helped the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League win the league championship.
"I've been on a lot of good programs and I feel very blessed and lucky to have had all of those opportunities," Leavitt said.
Although he did not capture any title while at CSN in 2007, Leavitt did earn first-team, all-conference honors with a .355 batting average and 73 RBI.
"He's a really good guy and a good teammate," said CSN coach Tim Chambers. "He works extra hard and is a true leader in the way he goes about his game."
Leavitt said he is particularly grateful to Chambers for taking a chance on him following his two years away from the game.
Leaving CSN for Arkansas proved troublesome for Leavitt, who lived in Las Vegas until the fifth grade.
"Las Vegas was kind of like my second home," Leavitt said. "I loved the coaches at CSN. It was probably one of my favorite coaching staffs ever. They made the game fun. I was sad to go away from that, but it was definitely a good experience … It was a big adjustment coming to Arkansas. Nobody knew who I was or anything about me."
If Leavitt has his way this weekend, however, the whole country, including the 30 MLB teams that passed on him, will certainly know who he is.
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].